MORGAN TWP. | Fewer than five years have passed since Tyler Abbett picked up a golf club for the first time.
In that short time, the sport has become an obsession. The Morgan Township junior is on the course as often as possible, and it doesn’t appear that trend will end any time soon.
“I never picked up a club until about eighth grade. I played baseball my whole life,” Abbett said. “I was still playing baseball at the time, but once I got into golf, I realized that this was the spring sport for me.
“Each time I step on the golf course, I can see myself get better. I know that golf is a lifetime sport, and that’s what’s really appealing about it to me. I’m going to love to play the sport until the day I die.”
The fascination with golf has led to Abbett being on the course as often as possible. His quick ascension up the ranks at Morgan has him in the No. 1 spot in the Cherokee lineup this season.
“He’s a great kid. He’s our team leader this year. He’s very coachable,” Morgan coach Gary Cauley said. “If he’s not already working on his own weaknesses, he’ll ask for help. He’ll watch some of the better players in the conference and takes mental notes, and then he brings those ideas back to his own practice. It’s really neat just to watch how he’s progressed.”
The Cherokees graduated last year’s top golfer, Brandin Bryan, the team’s only regional qualifier. But before Bryan left the program, he spent a lot of time working with Abbett and instilled in him confidence and a strong work ethic.
“Brandin Bryan worked closely last year with Tyler, how to practice and not to get down on himself,” Cauley said. “I think this year Tyler has a lot more confidence in himself and that kind of rubs off on some of the other players.
“I know before practice, I’ll show up at the golf course and some of the other players will be sitting down at a picnic table, but Tyler’s always out on the putting green or chipping around. He’s always working, and I think some of the other kids are picking up on that, and they’re following his lead.”
It’s a role Abbett has been groomed to fill, and one that he relishes. In a transition year for the program, the junior is happy to take the reins. He won medalist honors at the Calumet Invitational on April 12, helping the team finish second.
“I’m enjoying being in the No. 1 spot because I feel like I’ve been a leader my whole life,” Abbett said. “I enjoying seeing the young guys on the team grow, and next year … we’re going to be even stronger. This is a building year for Morgan Township golf.
“Once the season really gets going, once the weather clears up, I’d like to get on the course about every day. During the week is my time to play golf for the school and during the weekend is my time to work out the kinks that I had during the week. A lot of times on the weekend I’ll head to the range and just chip and putt for hours on end. I know I’m the leader of the team, so I’ve got to be leading the team on the scorecard.”
The cold early in the season and the recent rains have wreaked havoc on the schedule, including postponing Morgan Township’s Monday night match against Westville. But even when the weather hasn’t cooperated, it’s been hard to drag Abbett off the course.
“From my point of view, it’s frustrating because we’re just waiting to get out there and build up some sort of consistency,” Cauley said. “Even (Monday night) when it was raining, Tyler didn’t want to go home. He would have waited and hour and a half for the rain to pass us by just to get the match in.”